Two Heatwaves

photo: cafe le camelia

A Paris café across from the 'beach' on Saturday night.

Do Not a Summer Make

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 19. August 2002:- Like Ripley back from the wilds of deepest Essonne, I feel like starting the week's weather report with, 'You won't believe this.' Or maybe, 'Strange But True.'

If you have read this column before I bet you won't recall any mention of heatwaves here, unless you were reading it in July of this year when Paris enjoyed a modest one that lasted two whole days.

The unbelievable part today concerns Paris 2nd heatwave of the summer - one that lasted 50 percent longer than the first one. You'll have to take my word for this because it fit neatly into the middle of last week and hasn't left a trace.

Both of these heatwaves, even if they are lumped together, will be fondly remembered even if they are hard to recall. Five days are not quite the same as the five-month scorcher we had here in 1976, which a lot of people older than the pyramids do remember.

Odd though that on tonight's TV-news farmers in the southwest of France are complaining thatphoto: rue de nevers it is almost as dry as it was in 1976, and their corn might not amount to much. I am pretty sure they say something like this every year. Or maybe TV-news is a rerun every summer.

Getting 'heatwave' photos in Paris requires considerable patience.

A couple of days ago, after our 2nd heatwave left, the TV-weather news was promising pretty good weather for all of next week. But something must have happened, and tonight they were only showing up to next Thursday.

What they are showing isn't too hot, and isn't too dry. The weather guy persists in saying it will be warm, but isn't predicting any temperatures above 23. Meanwhile the Atlantic will blow 'fronts' across France and these will crash into the Alps, creating rain, lightning and thunder.

We had some of this late yesterday afternoon and it knocked down a big tree in the Avenue Victor Hugo, squashing a plastic Smart car flat as a pancake. It was illegally parked and no one was in it.

Café Life

August's Bread

It was a cool, grey Monday in this cool month of August. The bakery in my street closed some time ago, without leaving any notice about when it might reopen. My number one bakery was closed in July but it is open again except for being closed today.

My number two bakery closed for the month. The 'good bread' bakery I went to yesterday is closed today, like it is on all Mondays. So I go the other way up Daguerre, towards the Avenue du Maine and the first bakery is closed today too. It was closed yesterday as well.

Further up, past the Zango juice bar, I think I smell bread in the street. I can smell it, or smell my imagination of it. It is fleeting. There are two bakeries ahead and I only need one of them to be open to save my bread-craving today.

Luckily it is the first one. None of the other waiting customers can be regulars because theirphoto: cafe marly, louvre bread-line is irregular. A mini-group is massing for bread. A lady in a turquoise sweater ahead of me is offside on account of two huge backpacks with Québec flags on them.

An old man with a big, wild beard comes in after me. He is confused by the non-conformist waiting line. I edge to the right, to get a better view of the available bread. There is a whole, beautiful apple pie in one of the display cases, and my type of bread is in stock.

If the Louvre makes you hot - cool off at the Café Marly.

The lady in the turquoise sweater has gotten so far offside that she is slightly behind me. I tell her she's next. Anxious to have her place, anxious to have her bread, she isn't particularly grateful of my awareness of her place in line.

The roadblocking Québec backpackers are unfamiliar with Paris bread. Suddenly we are being served by three bakery people. Orders fly about. One gets my slice of apple pie, then wants to know if the other loaf should be sliced. In every bakery - never.

It looks like good stuff. Better than it smelt in the street. I ask for a little plastic sack and have the right change ready. I am thanked for this. I have been anxious too but calm enough to have counted the euro pieces correctly. Cool and grey or not, I have my daily August survival ration of bread.

Better yet. I have what looked like a pretty good piece of apple pie too.

Good Morning Nagoya!

Early in the week one of the pieces of spam email wasn't spam at all, but a request for information about summer conditions in Paris, from radio ZIP-FM in Nagoya, Japan.

Even though I don't speak Japanese too well, on the phone Saeko Higuchi said I could tell commuters about Paris in English. I didn't tell her my radio 'English' is mostly 'ums, ehhs, and ahs' just like any other average non-radio person.

At first I thought I would have to go to 'Paris Plage' at 23:00 and wait by a pay-phone for my call-in to Rio, ZIP-FM's early morning radio lady cheerleader for Nagoya's harassed commuters.

Saeko asked me lots of questions about Paris which I answered without any 'ums, ehhs, and ahs' becausephoto: last paris plage 2002 we were only talking on the phone. On the air, I went to pieces - but Rio must have miss-read her notes because she asked me if I had been swimming yet.

Saturday was the last and one of the best for 'Paris Plage' this year.

I am happy to report that all commuters in Nagoya who listen to Rio real early in the morning now know that Paris is not by the seaside. After my five minutes of fame were over, Saeko promised to send me a cassette with all of my 'ums, ehhs, and ahs' on it. Luckily, both Japan and France are in 'Zone Two.'

I got another email from Saeko. She wrote that I did okay - 'it was really fun' - especially after all my 'ums, ehhs, and ahs' were translated into Japanese.

Classy Métro Bathrobes

photo: metro bathrobe, ratp souvenirA couple of issues ago I mentioned the RATP's souvenir shops - specifically the one in the métro/RER station Châtelet-Les Halles. But while visiting the Paris Tourist Office last week I saw they have white and RATP-gren bathrobes in their display window.

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